Barely two months after building Job One, Toyota Australia has shipped the first of its redesigned Camry models to the Middle East from its export facility at Webb Dock in Melbourne, Victoria state.

The Australian-manufactured Camry, built only with four-cylinder engines, differs in detail from the US- and Japanese-built versions and shares its slightly restyled nose with a version that recently began production in China (along with its four-cylinder engines). A six-cylinder derivative, badged Aurion, will be launched 'down under' in the next few months.

Toyota Australia said it expected to remain the country's top vehicle exporter by shipping about 80,000 cars during 2006. Rival Holden, General Motors' local unit, is also a key exporter of both left- and right-hand drive cars while the local Mitusbishi and Ford units also ship small numbers of cars abroad, primarily right-hand drive, and mostly to neighbouring New Zealand.

The redesigned Australian Camry, now the only four-cylinder car built in the country, is ultimately destined for more than 20 countries, including New Zealand and the Pacific Islands, but the majority will go to the Middle East, as was the case with its predecessor which, just-auto understands, was particularly popular with taxi companies, especially in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

Toyota Australia president and CEO, Ted Okada, said the commencement of exports of the new model Camry was the culmination of a $A450m investment in facilities and technologies.

"Toyota Australia is entering one of the most exciting periods in its history of exports in this country," noted Okada. "Overseas demand for the Australian-made Camry is running at record levels and has been buoyed by demand for the all-new Camry.

"Toyota Australia's export success is attributable to the hard work of our employees, suppliers, transportation companies, shipping companies and port operations and the pursuit of continuous improvement in our levels of quality and cost performance."

More than 90% of Australian Camry exports are left-hand drive vehicles bound for Middle East countries, including Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. The Camry is the top selling passenger car in the Middle East, Toyota said.

"The 2006 export sales projection is about 80,000 vehicles," added Okada.

"This would be a record for any Australian car maker, beating the previous mark of 68,989 vehicles set by Toyota Australia last year."

Increasing demand from export markets has driven increased production and quality improvements at the automaker's manufacturing facility in the Melbourne suburb of Altona.
The company delivered its milestone 500,000th export vehicle earlier this year.

Ten years ago, only 20% of cars made at Altona were exported. This year, even with anticipated growth in domestic sales, more than 60% of total production will go to overseas markets.

The production of the new generation Camry was part of the simultaneous global launch by parent company Toyota Motor Corporation.

"For the first time ever, we were asked to deliver new Camry at the same time as the other major plants around the world," Okada said. "We had to be ready to build a completely new model without the benefit of reviewing the early performance of plants in Japan or the United States."